In November, my husband’s campaign for local office ended in victory on election night. Almost a year of talking politics, strategies and campaigning was finally over. The best part was that he won! I should have been elated, right? We should be basking in the afterglow of a long and tiresome campaign season coming to an end. Instead I felt tired and a little sad. We had worked so hard and had been focused on Election Day for so long that when it finally passed, even with a successful win, I didn’t feel much like celebrating.
I spent the better part of last year as the behind-the-scenes player for my husband’s campaign. I was a sounding board for all of his speech’s. I proofread all of his campaign materials and critiqued every move he made. Not to mention the countless evenings and weekends that I stayed home with our kids so he could attend a campaign meeting or event. We were a team and for the most part I enjoyed doing these things. I’ve never been interested in politics but I’m very interested in my husband and how his mind works. I’ve always enjoyed talking to people that are passionate about something and his passion for politics made me passionate about it too.
For most of the campaign, our lives went on like normal. Except for the many evenings spent talking about the campaign and wondering what it would be like if he won. We’d talk about what the job would be like and what he wanted to do once in office. We also talked about what it would be like if he didn’t win. Our fears and dreams all rolled into one.
The month leading up to the election was a whirlwind of events. There were phone banks, door-to-door campaigning and stress filled moments wondering if everything he’d done up to that point was enough. I was amazed at how much work goes into an election in a small community. My hat’s off to those running state and nationwide campaigns.
I spent so much time mentally preparing myself for a loss that it wasn’t until a few days before the election that I actually allowed myself to entertain the thought of him winning. Winning the seat would be a wonderful opportunity for my husband professionally but it would also benefit our family in many ways. With the extra income of this new position he would no longer need to work nights and weekends doing freelance work for his web design business. That would free him up to spend more time with his family. With the campaign over we could begin preparing our house to move. Moving into a bigger house would afford us the opportunity to consider having another child, whether one of our own or by adoption or foster care. Needless to say, there are so many wonderful things that would come out of his winning the election. With all of our future “eggs” in one basket the tension was high. He had to win.
Finally, election day arrived. Everyone else was going about their day like it was just another day and I wanted to scream, “Don’t you feel the excitement? It’s election day! My family’s future depends on this day.” Instead, I headed out to vote. When I got to the polling station my heart was racing, I was worried that I would do it wrong. What if I pressed the wrong button and mistakenly voted for the wrong person? I saw my husband’s name and carefully tapped the screen to highlight the X. Sigh…that’s it? Rationally, I knew that that was all there was to voting. I had voted in almost every election since turning 18 but somehow it felt so anti-climatic. I wanted to push the button a few more times for good measure but it doesn’t work that way. So I submitted my one vote, returned my card and left the polls having fulfilled my civic duty for that day.
The night of the election we held a small party as a thank you to his supporters, friends and family. We didn’t put much thought into the fact that this was a party that entirely hinged on the election results. If the numbers came in favorably it would be a lot of fun,otherwise it would be quite the somber event. So much for a laid back party. Everyone was on high alert waiting for the numbers to come in.
As the numbers started rolling in so did my emotions. My husband consistently kept coming in at third place. He needed to be in the top three to win so that meant he was winning but he wasn’t WINNING, if you know what I mean. It was a close race and by the end of the night we all let out a sigh of relief. He had won the election. He had come in third but he made it. I felt tired and a little bummed out. My pride and ego wanted a slam dunk. I wanted to see the numbers rolling in with loud cheers as his name came up in the lead. Instead, it was a mishmash of checking numbers and percentages and then a collective sigh before the hugs, handshakes and congratulations began. I said a quick thank you to God and hugged my husband. We did it. All of our hard work and dedication had paid off. I waited for the elation to kick in. I just felt drained.
As the last congrats were said we cleaned up and went home. We talked about the relief of having the election over, of how happy we were that he won and what this meant for our future. Then we went to bed. I woke up the next morning feeling restless, irritable and discontent. This is the day we’d been waiting for. We’d been talking about this day for months, almost a year. It had finally arrived and I felt miserable. What on earth was wrong with me?
My husband didn’t struggle with the letdown following the election as much as I did. He was the candidate so everywhere he went he received congratulations and had many exciting things to look forward to. My life didn’t change at all. I continued taking care of the kids, homeschooling and working on my blog. I have to admit that I felt a little jealous of all of the excitement surrounding my husband and felt a little left out. It wasn’t rational, I knew that he was the one who had won the election and not me. Still it felt anti-climatic when such a huge win for my husband and our family happened the night before and yet my life continued the next day as though nothing had changed.
Three days after the election and I was still moping around in a funk. It was a Friday afternoon and my husband was due home from work in a couple of hours. Desperately wanting to snap out of it I went to the bathroom to pray. I do most of my serious praying in the bathroom because it’s the only place I can get up to five minutes of privacy before the kids come looking for me. I prayed for guidance and help to be the person that he intends me to be then took a few deep breaths and felt better. As I got up to leave a thought popped into my head, “Throw him a party.” I’m not much of a last minute person, I like to plan and organize everything but it felt like a really good idea and for the first time in days I felt motivated.
I told the boys that we were going to have a surprise party for Daddy when he gets home that night and got them started on decorations for the party. They each made cards for their Daddy and we drew posters to hang on the walls. We made a CONGRATULATIONS DADDY banner which I strung and hung up backwards only realizing my mistake after it was already hung. I think it added to the last minute pulled together party flare that I was going for. His gift was something I had worked on throughout his entire campaign. It was a scrapbook filled with every newspaper clipping, online post, flyer and mailer related to his campaign. We wrapped his present and then waited excitedly for him to come home.
I’ll never forget the surprised and happy look on his face as he walked in the door and was practically run over by two excited little boys chanting the lines they had practiced, “Congratulations Daddy, I’m so proud of you!” Our eyes locked and I smiled at him, truly happy for him and all he’d accomplished.
Just like that my mood had shifted from feeling sorry for myself to being helpful to someone else. Sometimes when we are feeling at our worst the best medicine is to do something nice for someone else.